Feeding the Content Machine When You Think You Have Nothing to Write About

Illustration by Matt Mastrud

Illustration by Matt Mastrud

Originally published in The Partner Channel Magazine Winter 2015 issue

Although this new age of content marketing suits me very well, there are still times when I long for the good old days of direct mail when I could drop the letters in the mailbox and have the satisfaction that the job was “done”.  Now, if I post on one blog, I could post on three more. If I send 5 tweets, I could send 10 more. 

The demand for fresh, new content is never ending. It is like a hungry content machine that is never satisfied. (tweet this)

When I talk to people about content marketing, specifically blogging, I usually hear three main objections:

1)     I have nothing to write about.

2)     I don’t have time to write.

3)     I’m not good at writing.

In this article, let’s tackle the objection that you have nothing to write about. First of all, I think that objection is completely untrue for all of us. Our channel has access to an overwhelming amount of information and talent that can all be turned into blog posts and other content.  The key is knowing how to find it and use it.

Not All Blog Posts Are Created Equal

Many people get stuck in the mindset that every blog post has to be an amazing Pulitzer Prize winner with the potential to go viral. The fact is, most blog posts do not represent thought leadership, but just good old basic information.

8 Types of Blog Posts Every Dynamics Partner Can Write (tweet this)

Here are examples of 8 different types of blog posts that require varying levels of expertise, and time, to write:

1)     Expert: Posts that position you as an expert and show your depth.

These posts require extra time and research and are hard to outsource to others.  The subject matter expert needs to either write the post or be interviewed. Strong content like this should be used several times in different ways to get the most out of the time put into it.  For example, the content can be recycled for additional blog posts, an infographic, a webinar and an eBook.

Example: “10 Reasons Dynamics CRM is Better Than SalesForce for Distribution Companies”. 

2)     FAQ:  Posts that answer a specific question posed by a client or prospect.

Your sales or service teams can be an excellent source of material for FAQ posts. Listen in on sales calls, ask to be bcc’d on support emails, monitor your support team’s yammer account for ideas. Once you find a question that sounds interesting, ask your team member if you can record their answer.

Example: “Can I Set Up Multiple Ship To Addresses in Microsoft Dynamics AX?”

3)     Explanation: Posts that explain something that might seem obvious to you.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of your audience – either prospects or clients. What might seem obvious to you is not obvious to your prospects - explain it. (tweet this)  I find that attending a sales demo and listening to the questions (and noticing what goes over their heads) is a great way to get ideas. 

Example: “What is an ISV?”

4)     Analysis:  Posts that go deep, ask why, look for loopholes and analyze.

Very often we report something, perhaps a new promotion, and just give the surface facts.  Dig deeper into the fine print; for example, don’t just report the discount price, bulk it up by comparing it to the old price, show what is included and hidden things people may not have seen. This type of post requires some investigatory skill but readers love it.

Example:  “Dynamics NAV Buyer Beware: The Initial Cost is Lower, but the Annual Fee is Higher”

5)     Promotion: Posts that promote white papers, ebooks, videos or other marketing pieces.

These are some of the easiest posts to write without product knowledge and therefore the easiest to outsource to others.   Once you have a marketing piece you can easily summarize it or break it up into multiple smaller pieces and use that content as a blog post. Ideally, this would be your own marketing pieces; however Microsoft and other partners provide a huge amount of content we can promote.

Example: “Ebook: 10 Ways to Know You Have Outgrown QuickBooks”

6)     Summarize: Posts that put your own spin on an article or announcement.

A good blogger should be consuming information from other sources such as industry websites and RSS feeds. I personally rely on Google Alerts for this. When you find a good article, summarize it, add your own comments and then link to it. It is very important to attribute the original source because everyone hates a plagiarist. If done the right way this can be a good way to build relationships and exchange links. 

Example: “Top 10 Trends in the Manufacturing Industry”

7)     Local news/industry news: Posts that connect to your topic.

Connect local news items to Microsoft Dynamics. This helps to draw traffic in your local geographic area.  

Example: “Connecticut Man Embezzles $50k; Would the Right Accounting Software Catch Him?”   

8)     Curated Lists: Posts that gather various resources into one master list

What's better than one awesome resource? How about 15 awesome resources all accessible in one place? That is content curation. A list of curated content can cut down on writing time. Caution:  the time you save on writing can easily be swallowed up by the time you spend researching.

Example:  “Top 20 Distribution Industry Blog Sites”

I suggest posting a variety of different kinds of posts. Expert and FAQ posts are the cornerstone content, and the rest is just good filler as part of your online marketing strategy.

Where to Find Topic Ideas

Now that you have in mind the types of posts you want to write, you need topics. I  keep a long list of blog topic ideas ready so I never have to waste time wondering what to write about.  Here are a few sources I use to find topic ideas:

        www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator - Enter three nouns, get 5 titles.

        www.contentideagenerator - Answer 18 questions, get hundreds of title ideas.

        www.contentgems.com - Choose topics, get curated lists of matching content.

        www.google.com/alerts & www.mention.com - Track products, competitors, industries.

        www.statistica.com - Get current statistics to add interest to your posts.

        www.quora.com and www.LinkedIn.com Groups– Get questions you can use for FAQ posts.

        www.Tynt.com - Look at popular search terms and use these as topics.

        www.whitepapers.com – Find white papers to promote, or just reuse ideas or statistics.

        www.Buzzsumo.com –See what info is being shared the most then write on that topic.

        Microsoft PartnerSource/Ready To Go – Find reports, ROI tools, fact sheets, videos, campaigns.

        Event “Press Pass” – interview speakers/vendors, report on keynotes and sessions at events.

        Reuse/Recycle – a white paper can be turned into an infographic, an eBook can be turned into a checklist, a presentation can be turned into a slideshare. Then you can write a blog about each one.

Use Your Powers of Observation

Have you ever watched the TV show, Psych? The main character pretends to be a physic to solve crimes, but instead he is just using his keen powers of observation to see clues that others overlook.  Use your powers of observation to find content.

Think about how you could relate everyday experiences to your product. (Once I got scammed on vacation and wrote a post about how to avoid getting scammed when buying ERP software.)  Listen for interesting statistics. Look for photo opportunities (especially at events). Listen for good quotes during conversations, and then be sure to write them down.

Creativity gurus say that our best ideas come when we’re totally disconnected from our work. It could be when you’re jogging, showering, or waking up in the morning. That’s why you need to write down your ideas. Keep a notepad, type it into your phone, use Evernote, or even tell Siri to remind you of a topic later.

My coworkers have noticed that whenever I talk to them the conversation usually includes the statement: “I could blog about that”.

Constantly be on the lookout, use the resources in this article and I promise you will never again be able to use the excuse that you have nothing to write about. You will have a constant stream of fresh ideas to feed the hungry content machine.

By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing


Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg


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